How to Help Someone Having a Tonic-Clonic Seizure

There are many different forms of seizure that can occur. A tonic-clonic seizure occurs when the person first becomes very rigid (tonic) and then has rhythmical muscular contractions (clonic). The person is not usually conscious during these episodes.

Tonic-clonic seizures can occur due to Epilepsy, although other medical conditions can also cause seizures. For example, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can cause seizures if left untreated.

It’s important to provide good first aid for someone having a tonic-clonic seizure to reduce their risk of injury. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do as a first aider to stop the seizure. However, you can help protect the patient until the seizure stops or medical help arrives.

First Aid Steps for a Tonic-Clonic Seizure

  1. Call for emergency medical help*
  2. Start timing the seizure
  3. Move any hazards from around the person
  4. Protect their dignity, especially if the seizure has occurred in a public place
  5. Once the seizure has finished, ensure their airway is open and they are breathing normally
  6. Roll the person onto their side with their head tilted backward (the recovery position)

*Some people with Epilepsy may have regular seizures and not require emergency medical help. However, a prolonged seizure (> 5 minutes) or a seizure that stops then recommences should always lead to medical help being called.

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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